DAMASCUS, February 13, 2014 – The UN refugee agency said Thursday it has set up an air bridge to deliver 800 tonnes of aid to the city of Qamishli in northeastern Syria.
Tarek Kurdi, the UNHCR head in Syria, told AFP at Damascus airport that more than 240 tonnes has already been sent by air from the capital since February 6.
Nine flights have gone out as part of the aid operation, which is aimed at circumventing the dangers of overland travel.
More flights are planned to deliver the rest of the aid, which mostly consists of medicine, clothing and blankets to be handed out within days with the help of the Syrian Red Crescent and other local organisations.
The $3.5 million worth of assistance was raised by the UNHCR for 260,000 people who have sought refuge in Qamishli and been registered with the agency as internally displaced, he said.
Kurdi said the aid was only enough for 50,000 people and that further consignments would be needed, adding that the UN’s World Food Programme was also launching an air bridge to Qamishli.
Qamishli itself, which is controlled by the regime and allied Kurdish militias, has been mostly spared by Syria’s three-year-old conflict.
A separate UN aid operation has brought some relief to rebel-held areas of Syria’s third largest city Homs which have been under army siege for more than 18 months, and where residents have been surviving mainly on olives and wild plants.
The Homs operation, which began nearly a week ago, has so far seen the evacuation of some 1,400 people from the rebel-held districts and the distribution of 6.2 tons of flour and 500 food parcels.